04.09.2020 in Art

Lost in Translation


Lost in Translation is the title of the famous American romantic comedy- filled drama film that featured Sofia Coppola as the author and director. The movie portrays the city of Tokyo as an elegant and beautiful city with decorated building. The director has mastered the art of videography whereby she portrays the city under the night streetlights to bring about a fragrance of beauty that is associated with the Japanese culture. The focusing on the antique buildings also incites some visual adrenaline in a person’s soul. Lost in translation received positive applause from many people to the extent that it was nominated for various Academy Awards inclusive of Best Original Screenplay that was won Coppola, Best Director for Coppola, Best Actor for Bill Murray (Bob Harris), and the Best Picture. The movie delves majorly on the transitory nature of human life with an analysis the existence and meanings of relationships that bear an innate transformative ability. It captures the essence of the emotional fragility of human nature, strength and vulnerability of human interactions and sometimes ill-fated. At one point, there is a a part of a virtual dinosaur doing rounds on a building. This video part is captivating to the reader. In addition, the portrayal of parts like the golf course invites us to the natural world where there is serenity and peace. The essential auterial characteristics of the director impressive facility to capture and the method she utilizes in her themes of loneliness, solitude, and finding purpose topics. She has the innate ability to show sensations of transience, isolation through her controversial topics and ideas. The film gives us a view of Japan in the director’s eyes through the portrayal of the different characters. The director had moved in her 20s moved to Japan with a friend to start a clothing line business. Having stayed in Japan, we get to depict her struggles and her critical view of the Japanese culture through this film. 

Visual style and mise-en-scène

Sofia Coppola right from the onset is a visually stylish film director if I am to describe her briefly. Moreover, the self-confessed appearance for aesthetically pleasing photography, fashion as well as art is a prolific contributor to the ever appealing form of the movie lost in translation.  One cannot undermine the self-conscious sense of the beauty of her films that can be described as an all-important spice of the viewing process. Coppola purposefully leads her viewers into a feeling to watch her work passively. The combination of pastel colors, beautiful camera movements and the first beating modern soundtracks is recognizable, and majorly an integral parcel of the stylistic approach opted by the director. The seductive manner employed Coppola’s audio-visual style has made critics base an argument against her, some of them question as to whether there is any substance below the veneer or not with critics polarizing on the issue. When a critical examination of her work is conducted, a revelation of a vital link between the content and form to the extent that the two cannot be separated in any way. For example, if her subject matter touches on the social mores of a particular elite class, undoubtedly, her approach would demand that she matches a tune of extravagance in the initial setting and the film’s very construction. Besides a recognizable visual approach, she has vividly demonstrated a glittering interest in liminal situations, marginal groups of people, and rites of passage. It is the person in transition, between things as well as being undecided on what steps to take that seemingly interests Coppola. Besides, the amazing filming skill and style tends to depict a ‘in the Mood for love’ situation considering the luxury clothes. Finally, her considered approach towards mise en scène is that always it starts while bound on a massive collection of visual images with the accompaniment of a nice soundtrack. The effect is that it creates a primarily affecting visual style purposefully at the expense of a relatively extended dialogue. The similar style also serves partially to cover the spectra of a dark and insidious thing.

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Looking at the wide shots of the main characters as they seemingly occupy a small space besides being alone is a complete show. Many aspects of the movies are symbolic of something hidden. For instance, one may deduce that the golf course part is an symbol of wealth or natural beauty due to its background. The dinosaur on the war of the building may be a show of aging cultures that are about to be phased off. The story does not end there, as we can see from the shots the characters also seated in a large space with thousands of occupants where they are shuffled, and their existence is not noted or is completely disregarded by them. Such a setup works at its best to sell the idea that Charlotte, Bob, Johansson, and Murray’s characters are isolated, and lonely, as well as missing something important. Coppola employs the entire concept of “balance” as the way to communicate and depict the emotional sense and state of the characters. In this excerpt, the fitting expression would be that the world of her characters in the film, is the perfect visual representation related to their steady emotional states. An example is that Bob and Charlotte are emotionally unsatisfied and unbalanced on their arrival in Tokyo. Therefore, their way of composition in sharp shots is a visual reflection of that fact. Finally, they appear to take up sides of the frame without much adherence on counterbalancing them. The director begins to reflect and bring the balance to the lives when they eventually come together. A motif that dominates the film is nocturnal restlessness that appears to connect the movie’s protagonists. In the initial stages at the beginning of the movie, the shot looking before the introduction of Charlotte features a close up of Bob. The author also portrays the beautiful buildings of the city as a symbol of wealth and prestige in Japan. At the moment, he stares wide-eyed at the ceiling right on his bed. Nevertheless, a jump cut shows depict Charlotte (we are making an assumption that it is at the same time) similarly where she is unable to fall into sleep as she widely gazes through a window. We can infer from the motif of the pair’s separate although shared restlessness as existing to characterize their loneliness while at the same time facilitating the personal bond that finally results in the mutual coping quality that emerges at the long run. Various cultural aspects made the protagonists feel lost, confused and lonely as clearly depicted in situations such as sex in Japan, the TV show, the language where Bob tried to say R to L, to emulate the Japanese. While he was watching the TV he could not understand go to gym alone. Similarly, he got bored in the bar where the movie from the noisy bar now changes to his quite room signaling the strong feeling of the inability to do anything, just bored and lost totally. 

Cinematography and filmmaking technique

Cinematography and photography make some of the artistic mediums bear many similarities to their own. Cinematography refers to the entire discipline of making lighting as well as camera choices in recording a series of photographic images mainly for cinemas. Therefore, without photography, there cannot be cinema. The notable difference between the two concepts is that film can show movement within a scene, or the camera movements, unlike photography. Giving a look at the cinematography, it vividly captures every idea, backdrop and heartache of Japan, particularly Tokyo. The best description of the filmmaking is that it is simply amazing of its kind. Any person who has ever watched the movie can attest to the fact that the themes of isolation and loneliness are dominant. It is widely and communicated by the cinematography. In a reasoned analysis, the characters get entirely lost in translation in distinct ways than one in the film; giving the film a meaning to its affluent title. Sofia Coppola, the movie depicts a well-documented story decorated with a visually striking cinematography. It’s a fantasy about two personalities, Bob Harris, and Charlotte, who are visiting Tokyo. Charlotte’s married to a contemporary photographer with whom she’s having second thoughts. The filming of the movie is done using a 35mm Aaton, 35-III on the handheld shots as well as a video cam for the stationary shots in cases where the camera did not move. The cinematographer or the director of photography Mr. Lance Acord, was in a position to capture the beautiful scenery of Japan and at the same time convey the emotional affiliations of the characters by making use of varied cinematic techniques that included creative lighting, angles, composition, and lens filters. As a filmmaker, Coppola is renowned for the use of visuals on many occasions as opposed to the dialogue technique to tell her version of the story.  It is because of this that Lost in Translation is deeply sunk and filled with beautiful and emotional imagery throughout the film. Reflecting on the film at night, the night view, callout tone grey blue, makes the feeling of lost prominent. An example is when the actor is alone in the hotel room, the window shows the grey city tone, and while inside the room it shows the grey tone clothing and space alluding to the lost notion. The use of the cutting effect in the dark cannot see the face clearly but only the spot lights. It brings a feeling as it is in the real world or between dreams. The director portrays the movie as in an inspiring Mood of Love.


The film ‘Lost in Translation’ remains to be one of the well-controlled performances by the director in the recent movies. Moreover, without such a compelling and well-reasoned control mechanisms the film could not be as entertaining as it is and not worth some moments of watching. The reality unfolded itself in various ways. There is not a single viewer who did not have expectations on Bob and Charlotte to end finally up in love. Another string of hope was the discovery that they shared to a similar extent the same level of loneliness possible in a foreign country. The film is realistic in the purview of that context. As opposed to many characters, Bob and Charlotte do not realize or sense quickly the fact that they belong together, compounded with the funny bit of it that also they did not want to be immediately together. We get to know them separately and differently hence the approval of the fact that Bob and Charlotte did not possess this sought of meet cute. The filming of the movie still sends us into a situation of a dilemma. The interesting part is that the title gets a physical manifestation at this point where we all fail to get a vivid translation on Bob’s thoughts in the story.

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